I hate to say it, but those days are coming . . . you know what I’m talking about: cold . . . winter . . . snow. 🙁 Luckily for us, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to play in Columbus, Ohio, and when it comes to playing inside, there are a lot of FREE options! If you need to pass a morning inside but you also need to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, keep this list handy!
4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081, 614-895-6221
April to September: 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM
October to March: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tips: Inside the Nature Center there are puzzles, activities and books for kids. See more about what to do at the Nature Center here!
350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43082, 614-901-6500
Monday – Friday: 5:45 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tips: Westerville Community Center also offers indoor programing during the fall and winter months for young children. See more details here.
505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
(These are Summer hours, check the website or call to double check!)
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Tips: The play area also includes a “cave” to play in and there are also weekly story times for the preschool age! See more to do at the Audubon Center here.
2555 Bethel Rd., Columbus, OH 43220, 614-442-7622
(These hours may be seasonal, double check the website or call before visiting!)
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Tips: Socks are required to play inside and can be bought for $1 if you forget! I included this play area in one of my Cheap Family Outings in Columbus for Every Day of the Week!
1500 Polaris Parkway , Columbus, OH 43240, 614-846-1500
Monday – Thursday 10:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
This mall is home to a few different options for indoor play:
5. Zoo Play Area
Tips: Shoes must be removed to play. The area has recently been redone and only has one exit/entrance which is great for keeping an eye on wandering toddlers!
6. Food Court Play Area
Tips: In the Food Court, there are several vehicles kids can play on or ride for $.75. The area is mostly fenced in and has a large seating area around it so you can eat or have a seat while the kids play.
7. Pottery Barn Kids
Tips: PBK usually has toys out for play on both sides of the store (boys and girls) and my kids love them all! There is a story time on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM!
1775 Darby Creek Dr Galloway, OH 43119, 614-878-7106
April to May: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
June to August: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
September to October: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
November to March: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Tips: The nature center has a living stream as well as a small kids’ area to play in. There are preschool programs inside the center on Tuesdays!
Main Library: 96 S. Grant Ave., Columbus, OH 43215
Hours vary by library and can be found here.
Tips: So many of the branches of Columbus Metropolitan Library have great areas for indoor play! I shared my favorites here and here! Of course, many other area libraries have areas for play too! Check out the locations for Worthington, Westerville, Delaware County, Grove City, and Upper Arlington!
1685 W. 1st Ave., Columbus, OH 43212
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Tips: I included Grandview’s library separately because they have a really good area for toddlers and preschoolers to play. They also have a lot of story times! See the schedule here.
1555 W. Lane Ave., Upper Arlington, OH 43221
Monday – Sunday: 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Tips: This small play area is near the front and has books, play food, cars and more! Lots of seating nearby.
3622 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard, OH 43026, 614-527-8508
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Tips: First of all, this is a GREAT store for fun and educational kid products! There is a little play area tucked into the front corner of the store with a surprising amount of things to do! Blocks, play groceries, magnets, Calico Critters, and more!
14. Barnes and Noble
See the Columbus locations here!
Tips: Barnes and Noble is a hit for kids who love trains! At some locations there are Duplo blocks for playing and, of course, always lots of books to read! There are also story times on Saturdays!
4770 Hoover Rd, Grove City, OH 43123, 614-305-2034
Sun: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PMam – 2pm
Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Tips: Shoes must be removed and socks worn for play. Socks can be purchased for $1. There is a story time with crafts on Tuesday mornings! You can also register online before your first visit to save time! Outside the play area there is a cafe where you can purchase food (coffee is only $1!) and lots of seating!
471 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Saturdays 9:30 AM – 11:30AM
Tips: Shoes must be removed for play. There is also a rock climbing area here!
7227 N. High St., Worthington, OH 43085
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Tips: Shoes must be removed for play. If it’s warm enough, there is also an outdoor play area just outside the exit by the indoor play area!
5043 Tuttle Crossing Blvd, Dublin, OH 43016, 614-717-9300
Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tips: This play area has a STEAM theme: Science, Technology, Arts and Music. Lots of hands-on, fine motor activity here! (There is also an area with coin-operated vehicles in the food court area!)
480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-221-6801
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tips: This is a area for art and exploration on the bottom floor of the Art Museum. The Columbus Museum of Art (and this kids’ area) is free on Sundays only!
4004 Gramercy St., Columbus OH 43219, 614-342-2710
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Tips: Most of the time there is a Lego table set up for play inside the store!
**I’ve updated this list to include more free play areas as we find them! Yay!
Monday: 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Tuesday – Friday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tips: Coffee Connections is a coffee shop in Hilliard with a community space and play area in the back building. The play area is fun for preschoolers and younger and is totally free! (Though, you should probably buy a cup of coffee. 😉 ) See more pictures here.
I hope this list gets you through the winter! I know we will be making use of many of these places as the weather gets cold and I get cabin fever! 🙂